A “significant” number of workers are facing the end of the line at a South Australian food processing plant that is unable to secure contracts beyond the middle of the year.

Key points:

  • One of Port Lincoln’s major employers is in danger of closing
  • Port Lincoln Tuna Processors has been unable to secure a new contract
  • The plant has handled products such as baby food, gravy and custard after the tuna contract went overseas in 2010

Port Lincoln Tuna Processors (PLTP), on the Eyre Peninsula, has not been offered any opportunities beyond the end of its contract, which expires mid-June.

“We have worked very hard to sustain our operations amid challenging business conditions in regional SA and COVID-19 upheavals,” managing director Mario Valcic said in a statement. 

The ABC understands 135 workers will lose their jobs.

Founded in 1973, PLTP has not handled tuna since that contract went offshore in 2010, when it was Australia’s last tuna cannery.

It has since processed products like baby food, gravy, puree and custard.

The company said it was consulting its employees about “significant structural changes”.

Before the tuna canning contract went overseas to Thailand, PLTP employed 260 onsite workers.

Several fishing boats lined up at a marina.

The RDA hopes the plant will return to processing the local catch.(

Supplied: Anne Trebilcock

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‘Jobs are there’

Regional Development Australia (RDA) Eyre Peninsula’s Dion Dorward said there were plenty of job vacancies in the region.

“Just about any sector that we look at now across the region, there are shortages at just about all levels,” he said.

Mr Dorward said there were between 800 and 1,200 positions available in the region and that RDA was pushing for a skills audit to ensure workers could be helped to find new employment.

“It’s really going to come down to ensuring that we have accurate information available to these people and support around them to be able to make the best of a challenging situation,” he said.

Mr Dorward said he would not be surprised if other operators were interested in the plant because of disruption to global seafood supply chains caused by COVID-19.

“We have such tremendous fresh seafood over here,” he said.

“The need to probably connect some of that seafood back into domestic markets might provide an opportunity for packaging and marketing out of [Port] Lincoln again.”

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Significant number of jobs on the line as SA food processor runs out of work
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